Students bring live art to the Set

Maya Shea, a junior fine art student from Tallahassee, gently guided her paintbrush stroke by stroke against her canvas.

The sketched portrait by Pierce Cook, a senior fine arts student with a concentration in design from Marineland, Fla., also enticed the attention of students walking on Florida A&M’s campus.

This year, the fine arts students have begun displaying live art and selling their original works on the Set.

Harris R. Wiltsher, the chair and associate professor of the visual arts department, said this will help students grow beyond the Foster-Tanner building.

“I think for them, it’s going to help them build character, help them build patience and help them understand that they have to work on their skill set,” Wiltsher said.

Shea said has been painting for many years and was inspired by family, especially her aunt who was an art teacher. She has always been inspired to paint Queen Nefertiti and capture her influential status.

Shea said it is important for student artists to showcase their work and practice entrepreneurship.

“It’s really possible for students to come out here and make money,” Shea said.

She wanted to present an original piece that was recognized by students, and her Nefertiti piece was sold before she placed a paintbrush on the canvas.

“Someone put a deposit down for this when it was only a sketch,” Shea said.

Shea hopes this will help educate students about art and its importance, but Shea admitted that it feels a little strange doing live artwork.

“It’s a little weird to have people watch you paint because if it doesn’t look like Nefertiti, people are going to be looking at me like ‘uh’ – but it’s fun,” Shea said.

While students began to cluster around the tent to watch the artists, Cook said looking at the reactions to his work brings him happiness.

“I like making people feel good,” Cook said.

Julian Hooker, a senior criminal justice student from Tampa, was impressed by how fast and detailed Cook was able to sketch his portrait.

“I’ve never seen myself drawn before,” Hooker said. “I’m actually going to come back and get another portrait of me.”

Zana Hunt, a first year pre-professional pharmacy student from Fort Lauderdale, said she believes the art students are creating a great atmosphere for selling art at FAMU.

“As soon as I saw [the art] I decided that I wanted one,” Hunt said. “Someone can ask, ‘wow, how did you get that done?’ and I can say ‘well, a student did it.'”

In high school, Hunt was involved in the arts. She said unlike Shea and Cook, she needed more than 15 minutes to paint a piece.

“It took me like two weeks to do a piece,” Hunt said. “It’s amazing that they are able to do this stuff in 10 to 15 minutes.”

Bryanna Dunning, a freshman business and administration student from Fort Lauderdale, waited with her friend while Cook began sketching her friend’s photo. Dunning received a sketching a few weeks ago and was impressed by the work that she had received.

“We really liked it and we hung it up in our dorm room,” Dunning said.

Shea hopes they will be able to continue to showcase the work on the Set.

“I would hope that the art department always does this here on out,” Hunt said. “No one is going to know if we don’t get out and show people what we do.”